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Ukraine leader pledges ‘strong response’ after shots fired at aide’s car in assassination attempt | World News

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned the “response will be strong” after one of his top aides survived an assassination attempt.

At least 10 bullets struck Serhiy Shefir’s car, the top aide and close personal friend of Mr Zelenskiy, outside of Kiev on Wednesday.

The driver of his black Audi was badly wounded and taken to hospital, but Mr Shefir escaped uninjured.

It is not known who carried out the shooting and the gunman is still at large.

Markers are attached next to bullet holes in a car of Serhiy Shefir, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's principal aide, following an assault outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko
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Markers are attached next to the bullet holes in the car of Serhiy Shefir following the attack

Mr Zelenskiy issued a warning to the attacker from New York, where he is taking part in the UN General Assembly.

He said he did not know who was responsible for the attack, but pledged “a strong response”.

“These could be internal or external forces. But I don’t consider them to be strong because sending me a ‘hello’ by firing from a forest into the automobile of my friend is weakness,” he said.

“This [attack] will not affect the strength of our team.

“This does not affect the path toward change that I have chosen with my team, for taking our economy out of the shadows, for the fight against criminal elements with large, influential financial groups – on the contrary, because the people of Ukraine gave us a mandate for change.”

Mr Zelenskiy addressed the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City this week while the assassination attempt took place 12 miles south of Kiev
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Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was in New York at the time of the attack, has pledged ‘a strong response’

Mr Shefir praised his driver for acting “heroically” by accelerating away from the gunman as the “shots rang out”.

He added: “We had to speed up a little, it was scary.”

Mr Shefir also said he believed he had been targeted in an attempt to intimidate the “highest echelon of power”, but added this would not work.

He said: “One has to understand that our president [Zelenskiy] is very strong-willed, he has a spine and cannot be intimidated.”

The Kremlin has denied any Russian involvement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added any suggestion of a link with Russia showed “the signs of an excessively excited emotional state”.

He said: “Unfortunately nowadays, whatever happens in Ukraine, none of the current politicians is able to rule out the Russian trace.”

Mr Shefir praised his driver for acting "heroically" by accelerating away from the gunman
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Serhiy Shefir praised his driver for acting ‘heroically’ by accelerating away from the gunman. File pic

Ukraine has seen a huge rise in violence since its conflict with Russia began in 2014 when the Crimean peninsula was annexed.

Several military and political officers have been targeted in assassination attempts since then, with seven deaths taking place between 2016 and 2017 alone in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

The attack came just days before Ukrainian politicians were set to debate Mr Zelenskiy’s bill on cracking down on the country’s powerful oligarchs, who dominate the economic and political landscape.

On Thursday, a day after the shooting, Ukraine’s parliament passed a law which bans oligarchs from financing political parties or taking part in privatisations.

It must now be approved by the president to come into force.

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Colin Powell: Former US Secretary of State dies following COVID complications, says family | US News

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Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has died following coronavirus complications, his family has said.

A statement on his Facebook page posted by his family said the 84-year-old “passed away this morning due to complications from COVID-19”.

“He was fully vaccinated,” they said.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”

NBC News cited his spokesperson Peggy Cifrino and a family member as saying he was at Walter Reed National Medical Centre in Maryland at the time he died, where he had been suffering from multiple myeloma.

Mr Powell was the first African American secretary of state and the first black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

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Myanmar junta chief says military government committed to restoring peace | World News

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Myanmar’s junta leader has said his military government is committed to restoring peace and democracy. 

In a televised address on Monday, Min Aung Hlaing, dressed in civilian attire, reiterated the junta’s five-step plan toward restoring order.

His comments came in response to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) decision to sideline him from an upcoming leaders’ summit over a lack of progress on a peace roadmap.

Since the military took control of Myanmar, people have protested its rule
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Since the military took control of Myanmar, people have protested its rule

The group of southeast Asian countries said they would invite a non-political representative to the summit – an unprecedented snub to the military leader, who led the coup against the elected civilian government led by Aung Sung Suu Kyi in February.

Brunei, ASEAN’s current chair, issued a statement citing a lack of progress made on a peace roadmap that the junta had agreed to with the body in April to restore peace in Myanmar.

But Min Aung Hlaing said on Monday that ASEAN should take note of his government’s plans – and the provocations and violence he said were being carried out by its opponents.

“More violence happened due to provocations of terrorist groups,” Min Aung Hlaing said. “No one cares about their violence, and is only demanding we solve the issue. ASEAN should work on that.”

Minutes after his speech, state television announced more than 5,600 people arrested or subject to arrest warrants over their roles in anti-coup protests would be freed in an amnesty for “humanitarian reasons”.

Singapore’s foreign ministry said at the weekend that the move to exclude Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult, but necessary, decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government blamed “foreign intervention” for the decision.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun accused the United States and representatives of the European Union of pressuring ASEAN member states.

“The foreign interventions can also be seen here,” he said. “We learned that some envoys from some countries met with US foreign affairs and received pressure from EU,” he told the BBC Burmese news service.

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by Myanmar security forces with thousands of others arrested amid a crackdown on strikes and protests that has derailed the country’s delicate democracy and prompted international condemnation, according to the United Nations.

The junta says those estimates of the death toll are exaggerated.

ASEAN has faced increasing international pressure to take a tougher stand against Myanmar, having been criticised in the past for its ineffectiveness in dealing with leaders accused of rights abuses, subverting democracy and intimidating political opponents.

A US State Department official told reporters on Friday that it was “perfectly appropriate and in fact completely justified” for ASEAN to downgrade Myanmar’s participation at the coming summit.

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Kerala floods: At least 22 people killed in flash flooding and landslides in south Indian state | World News

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At least 22 people have been killed in flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rain in the southern Indian state of Kerala over the weekend.

The National Disaster Response Force, the Indian army and navy were called out to rescue people after several areas were hit.

According to a government official, 13 people were killed in a landslide in the village of Kuttikkal, Kottayam district, with six of the casualties coming from one family.

A landslide triggered by heavy rains in the mountains at Koottickal in Kottayam district, southern Kerala, India. Pic: AP
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A landslide triggered by heavy rains in the mountains in Kottayam district, Kerala. Pic: AP
This photograph provided by the Indian Navy shows a navy person looking from their helicopter on a mission to distribute relief material to flood affected people at Koottickal in Kottayam district, southern Kerala state
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The navy has been distributing relief material to flood affected people. Pic: Indian Navy via AP

Officials said the intense rainfall had subsided, but feared the number of deaths could rise as relief and rescue operations continued.

On Sunday, rescuers recovered bodies in two of the worst-hit districts, Kottayam and Idukki.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim after recovering it from the debris of a residential house following a landslide caused by heavy rainfall at Kokkayar village in Idukki district in the southern state of Kerala
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Rescue workers search for victims in the debris of a house in Kokkayar, Idukki district

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Kerala floods kill at least 22

Those two districts and four others were reported to have been put on red alert after at least one of them saw more than 12cm of rain by 8.30pm local time on Saturday, when the heavy rains began.

Then, television reports showed people wading through chest-deep waters to rescue passengers from a bus that was nearly submerged by the torrents flooding the roads.

The state chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, urged residents to exercise extreme caution even though the intense rainfall had subsided.

A Shiva temple on the banks of the Periyar River is surrounded by flood water following heavy rains in Kochi, Kerala. Pic: AP
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A Shiva temple on the banks of the Periyar River is surrounded by flood water. Pic: AP

More than 100 relief camps have been set up, he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to the chief minister and added that authorities were working to rescue those affected. “I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” he said in a tweet.

In 2018, Kerala suffered catastrophic floods when heavy downpours during the monsoon season killed at least 400 people and displaced around 200,000.

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